After hearing Tim & Jon talking about Star Trek Online on the rebooted How To Murder Time podcast (and Patrick Stewart talking about space exploration on The Infinite Monkey Cage), I thought I might get the old starship out of mothballs and boldy go where quite a lot of people have gone before but I haven’t been for a while. Melmoth brilliantly captured the problem of picking up old characters, and between space and ground hotbars, bridge officers, tactical kits and whatnot, none of which I could really remember, I wouldn’t have stood a chance in a fight with a Clanger, let alone a Klingon battle fleet. Fortunately Star Trek Online has a few nice low-key ways of getting back into the swing of things, such as Duty Officer missions.
Duty Officer missions concern the day-to-day management of a crew of hundreds that the TV series generally glossed over, apart from the classic episode “Annual Performance Evaluation Reviews on the Edge of Forever”; calibrating shields and weapons, hosting ambassadors, granting leave, searching for contraband, that sort of thing. Pack the crew off with a couple of clicks, they return in an hour or two with loot, brilliant.
After a couple of days I thought I really ought to leave Earth Spacedock, though, so with a bit of helpful advice I at least got some decent Bridge Officers slotted up to give USS Hope some useful combat abilities, and took a refresher on Space Combat Basics (1: point ship at enemy 2: mash ‘fire all weapons’ button) followed by Advanced Space Combat (3: point ship away from enemy and repeat step 2 with aft weapons) and Extremely Advanced Space Combat (4: press all number keys then Ctrl-all number keys to see if your Bridge Officers can do something helpful like buff your weapons or debuff enemy shields). There are many tactics and manoeuvres in the Star Trek canon but none really capture my Extremely Advanced Space Combat technique, so I might have to dub it The Zoso Manoeuvre:
“Mister Herring! Attack Pattern Omega. Ensign Izzard! Polarise the hull. Lieutenant Osho! Auxiliary to structural, deploy repair parties.”
“Erm, sir… we haven’t actually received any damage yet.”
“I know. But we probably will. Ensign Lee! Dispersal Pattern Beta.”
“Dispersal patterns are for quantum mines, sir”
“Yes sir. We’re not fitted with mines.”
“Right. Well, if we were fitted with them, deploy them in Dispersal Pattern Beta.”
“Right, I think that’s clicked all the buttons. Oh wait a minute, what’s this one with the little picture of the starship and the arrows coming out of it? That looks useful, do that.”
“That’s… Abandon Ship, Captain.”
“Oh well, I’ve clicked it now. Off we go!”
And so it was that USS Hope II did a couple more days of Duty Officer missions before venturing into space again…